Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie receives regulatory green light to offer sports betting; sportsbook launch date yet to be announced
Sports betting is coming to Northwestern Pennsylvania after the state Gaming Control Board approved on Wednesday the application of Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Erie to join the sports gambling field.
Presque Isle filed its application with the regulator in December. During a presentation to the board that took place yesterday, casino officials said that the property’s sportsbook will occupy 1,275 feet of space and will be located right next to its poker room and simulcast area.
In addition, the gambling venue and racetrack will feature 50 self-betting kiosks. Preparations for the launch of sports betting will include the relocation of 69 slot machines, it also became known yesterday. Presque Isle will add 50 large-screen TVs throughout its gaming floor to broadcast different sporting events and odds boards.
Bettors will be able to wager on a number of professional sports, including football, basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, and the Olympics, and on some collegiate sports. The sportsbook area at Presque Isle will be smoke-free, but some of the betting kiosks will be placed at the casino’s Center Bar and Bar 90 where smoking is allowed.
Presque Isle was acquired last month by Churchill Downs Inc. for nearly $180 million. The deal was originally announced in February 2018, but was subject to review by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission.
When Will Presque Isle Open Its Sportsbook?
Now as Presque Isle has received regulatory authorization to provide sports betting, it will have to conduct additional review and two-day public testing before officially opening its sportsbook. Property officials are yet to announce when the testing period will take place.
Presque Isle will initially go live with retail wagering, but it will also be able to offer online and mobile betting at a later stage. Churchill Downs, the property’s new owner, operates sports betting under the BetAmerica brand together with its partner SBTech.
Before giving unanimous approval to Presque Isle, Gaming Control Board commissioners asked the casino officials in attendance to provide a bit more details about the betting kiosks and whether Churchill Downs operates those at any of its other properties.
Cathy Beeding, Senior Counsel and Compliance Officer for the gaming company, told Pennsylvania regulators that kiosks are used at two of its Mississippi properties and have proved particularly popular with bettors. She further pointed out that being able to make a 20-game parlay on a kiosk was “a much more preferable and delightful experience” than trying to relay all the necessary information to a cage cashier.
Pennsylvania was among the states that did not need to pass a sports betting legislation in the wake of the May 2018 SCOTUS ruling that struck down a federal ban on the practice. The state legalized wagering in the fall of 2017 as part of a larger gambling expansion package.
However, first legal sports betting operations commenced in the state in mid-November. Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course opened Pennsylvania’s first sportsbook. Rivers Casino and SugarHouse Casino were the other two properties to go live with sports gambling by the end of 2018.
According to Gaming Control Board data, the state’s first three sportsbooks handled $17.5 million in wagers through the end of December and grossed $2.5 million in revenue. January figures are yet to be released by the regulator.
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